Since I did pretty much the same thing every time I volunteered I'm journaling by month so that you don’t get a lot of repeats.
This was my first month of volunteering. Last semester I worked with PCYC in North Minneapolis. Monroe and Aces were both new to me, but the neighborhood was not. This is close to the area I grew up in which is one of the reasons I picked this location.
The first couple days I had to learn the system and the schedule that was followed the days that I was going to be there. All the volunteers meet up in the cafeteria and then wait for the kids to come in. Then we would be divided up amongst the different grades of children. I chose 5th graders since I have a nephew at home who is that age, so it wouldn’t be anything I was unfamiliar with.
Once we were in the groups things became kind of awkward. The children weren’t familiar with me at all like they were with a few other volunteers who were returning. There also wasn’t a set group of kids in each class; they were in the middle of a transition between different teachers. This made it kind of difficult for me to get to know the kids or for them to get to know me, but I guess I just arrived at the wrong time.
This first month was pretty much me getting used to the system and getting to know kids as they were switching in and out of class. I took the opportunity to stay with the same teacher and grade the whole time unlike most other volunteers who took a different group every time they came. This gave me the ability to get to know a few kids really well instead of spending little time with a lot of kids.
This month everything was set. I was used to the system now and I was with a set group of kids since all the transitions were over. They were all also really familiar with me; they recognized me and came to me for help instead of me having to ask them if they needed it. I also got to talk to kids about their interests and once had an extensive conversation with one about soccer.
By the end of the month the main teacher in the classroom asked me if I wanted to do some of the teaching since it seemed the kids liked me more. I thought this was pretty cool. The kids and I worked on putting together thank you notes to the Timberwolves. It went pretty well and the kids seemed pretty responsive to me teaching and guiding them through the assignment.
The teacher and I had also developed a pretty good relationship. When he was teaching it would often ask me for information or my view on the subject. I was pretty active in the lessons aside from just helping kids like homework, which I thought was going to be the only thing I was doing.
April didn’t differ much from March. I still was very active in the class and grew more familiar with the kids. This was my last month though. I think that on the day I was leaving the teacher was leaving also, so the next week the kids would have a completely new set of people in the class.
I feel like I had a great experience volunteering with Aces. It took a month for everything to get set but after it was I became really connected with the kids I was helping. Sticking with the same group is something else I’m glad I did. I don’t know how every other volunteer’s time but I feel like mine was pretty unique from theirs. Hopefully in the future I will get the opportunity to go back to Aces and Monroe.